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Storm Un-Chasing

You’ve heard of storm chasing. Well, we’re storm un-chasing.

They say the most dangerous thing in sailing is having a timetable. If you “have” to be somewhere by a certain time, you may go in conditions that are not safe. Bad weather, lightning, thunderstorms, high seas are all things you want to avoid, and can if you are patient.

We had a plan to start sailing north from Florida at a certain time for two reasons: 1) we have to be north of Florida by July 15th under our insurance policy, and 2) after the July 4th holiday, Savannah and Aria were able to join us, and we wanted to take them on a nice cruise.

Well, nice cruise and sailing in a hurricane don’t go together.

As early as last week, we started hearing scuttlebutt at our marina from more experienced sailors about a tropical system that was building. Our ears perked up. The system was first known as Invest 91. It was supposed to be fairly weak. Then it started to gain strength.

We subscribed to Chris Parker’s excellent weather forecasts and our ears started really waggling when the storm was given a name, Arthur, the first Hurricane of the season, and when Chris started to predict it would become a level 2 Hurricane.

We realized that even if it meant contacting our insurance broker, Bill Hodgens, and Pantaenius, our insurance company, to discuss waiting, and worse yet, even if it meant disappointing the girls and making alternate plans, we would watch the storm and wait it out before sailing north.

Here is an image of what we wanted to avoid, and why we waited to sail north until the weather had passed.

In terms of where the boat would be if the storm hit south Florida, we were in luck because our boat would be on the hard at Hinckley Yacht Services all this week getting some important pre-cruising engine service, bottom painting, cutlass bearing replacement, etc.

We started looking for the best weather apps, services and software and websites to follow. After looking at many, some free and some with a fee, we came to rely on:

1) Chris Parker’s forecasts, which are a subscription we purchased on his website, http://mwxc.com/signup.php
2) Passage Weather has excellent animated forward forecasts of waves and wind, precipitation and visibility http://passageweather.com/
3) Jeff Masters comments at Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com/blog
4) Weather Underground’s Marine Weather maps http://www.wunderground.com/marine-weather/
and wave height maps http://www.wunderground.com/MAR/mmm.html?map=wave
5) National Weather Forecasts http://www.noaa.gov/
6) SailFlow  http://old.sailflow.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=201&regionProductID=30&timeoffset=1

In the end, our patience was rewarded. The storm passed on northward, leaving the seas calm and winds (almost too) light in Stuart, FL where we will push off from on Sunday morning the 6th.
Here are Passage Weather’s predictions for that day.

Well, we’d rather be safe and motorsailing (and in flatter seas for Savannah’s sake) than speedy and sorry.

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